The internet is one of the greatest inventions of our time. It spreads information at the speed of light, brings people together from opposite sides of the globe in an instant, and has instigated a whole new era for business and banking.
With so much good, inevitably there is some bad as well, and the biggest downside of the internet must of course be the looming security issues that now threaten organisations, both big and small. To make matters worse, the methods of cybercriminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated and at an alarming rate; these groups and individuals are constantly finding new and ingenious ways to hack systems.
With so much at stake – from pledges made to customers, to a company’s reputation, not to mention the integrity of capital and assets – security is now at the top of every organisation’s agenda. Implementing the measures needed to ensure maximum safety, however, is no mean feat, which is why more and more companies are turning to third parties to bridge the gap.
Against the background of this growing trend, World Finance had the chance to speak to Andreas Lutz, Chief Marketing Officer at Fides Treasury Services, to discuss both the challenges and opportunities facing corporate treasurers in such a rapidly evolving landscape.
The issues of technology and security have become a very hot topic lately, making them a top priority on the agenda of corporate treasurers everywhere
What are some of the challenges facing treasurers today?
The majority of corporate treasurers today note that their biggest challenges continue to be managing risk effectively, in addition to improving cash visibility and predictability. It has become crucial that more treasurers move to centralised decision-making in order to improve efficiency and visibility, particularly for cash management, operations, funding and hedging.
Moreover, as a result of various highly publicised malware and cyber-attacks, the issues of technology and security have become a very hot topic lately, making them a top priority on the agenda of corporate treasurers everywhere.
How is the issue of technology both a challenge and an opportunity for treasurers?
New tools and technologies present numerous exciting opportunities, especially in the area of payments. However, since automation is not yet complete, many treasurers are still struggling with the traditional challenges for payments. For instance, file formats often differ – even now, with the existence and widespread adoption of ISO 20022, the finance industry’s international standard for electronic data exchanges. Consequently, mass-payments are still relatively slow.
Furthermore, many treasurers still have to work very closely with, and rely on the help of, their IT departments in order to develop end-to-end automation. In my opinion, one of the biggest challenges therefore is working out how to successfully integrate a treasury management system or connectivity provider.
To your mind, what are the biggest security risks facing treasurers?
I think they actually vary from company to company; they also depend on the sector that they are in. That being said, what all treasury departments have in common is the need for communicating with their banks, whether this is via a sophisticated treasury management system (TMS) or through a simple e-banking platform. This being the case, companies need to think about how they can protect information exchange between external systems. For example, a company can engage with the TMS via a service bureau, such as Fides Treasury Services, which then transmits information safely and securely to the bank on their behalf.
For what reasons have security risks increased recently?
Security risks – or, in other words, the number of cybersecurity incidents detected – have increased continuously throughout the last few years; in fact, they have risen by almost 50 percent over the last two to three years alone. I think there are various reasons behind this rapid surge, but some of the obvious ones are, for example, legalities – because most companies still do not involve the law when cybercrimes are carried out by insiders, which means that other organisations become vulnerable themselves when they go on to hire those people in the future.
Secondly, cybercriminals are getting better and better at what they do. Importantly, their targeting has become far shrewder; they know who to go after, which is more often than not SMEs, as they typically have weaker security systems in place.
Finally, I have to say that the connectivity of today’s world, with its massive network that interconnects information within a matter of seconds, makes it far easier for any kind of cybercrime to be committed.
How might outsourcing treasury connectivity services to a third party reduce some of these security risks?
From my point of view, outsourcing provides a logical safeguard and ensures the risk is mitigated. Today, as corporate treasurers rationalise their business models and seek to further automate any processes within the treasury, outsourcing – in regards to further automating, such as bank communications – is an opportunity that is attracting growing examination and consideration.
This is especially the case because a corporation would otherwise have to set up a full-technology infrastructure, which includes establishing business connectivity, transaction management, regular security patches and a great deal more.
Yet, with the use of today’s TMSes and a connectivity provider such as Fides Treasury Services, outsourcing and automating can reduce security risks effectively and efficiently.
How does Fides Treasury Services help streamline this process and ward off security risks?
Maintaining your own infrastructure from a connectivity perspective is no small task: not only is a sizeable investment into state-of-the-art hardware required, but there is also the ongoing challenge of carrying out necessary and frequent security patches in order to improve performance and usability.
We at Fides Treasury Services are specialists in helping our clients build up secure connections to us, and therefore to their entire banking landscapes. In addition to continuously investing in the newest technology and infrastructure, we have implemented as many additional precautions as possible. For example, we carry out comprehensive monitoring of critical systems and automated notifications in the case of any irregularities, and we also perform regular upgrades of network hardware and patching of internet-facing appliances.
Finally, and of crucial importance, we employ the best and brightest trained specialists to assess situations quickly and then act professionally should the need arise. With this and more, our clients can rest assured that their data enjoys the maximum security and confidentiality at any point in time.
How is it that the company differs to competitors?
With our foundations having been laid in 1910, Fides Treasury Services can look back on more than a century of experience in servicing satisfied clients. In addition, being part of the Credit Suisse Group, we are committed to the highest quality and security standards, while also being a specialised multi-banking service provider.
Our solutions are flexible, cost efficient and can be connected with a TMS or enterprise resource planning system. If you don’t have your own system in place, then you can take advantage of our proprietary solutions. These enable you, for example, to have an overview of liquidity at a keystroke, while they also allow you to summarise account information, such as balances from your banking partners around the world. Furthermore, the worldwide transmission of single and bulk payments to your banks is summarised on just one easy to use portal.
Finally, I would like to stress that no matter how you wish to use what we offer, everything we do comes with a wide range of conversion and validation services, as well as the very highest security standards.
What plans do you have for the future?
Fides Treasury Services has been dedicated to providing multi-banking access to both the corporate and financial sectors since 1985, connecting and servicing more than 3,000 clients globally through SWIFT, EBICS, as well as other networks. Our aim is to continue growing, expand globally and further develop our products based on market and client expectations, while also identifying and captivating new business opportunities as soon as they arise.